Survey Fraud: From the Mouths of the Ghosts who Pull it Off

typing hands on keyboard

A 5 part Series on Fraud in the Survey Ecosystem.

Part 1: Survey Fraud Approaches- From the Ghosts who pull it off. 

In 2022, I spent more time trolling devious online characters than I care to admit. At least it was for a good cause- Industry Education on Survey Fraud. 

Thanks to some valued partners and a lot of grit, I interviewed two digital ghosts via Zoom so I could understand their whats and whys. I brought a comprehensive summary to ESOMAR Congress.  

In case you couldn’t be there, I’m happy to present a blog series on my key learnings and share how researchers can activate this new knowledge in your survey security game.  

Here’s a brief recap of how these ghosts work. 

Ghost #1 (aka “John”)  

“John” is a Venezuelan IT tech guru who decided to turn ‘Whitehat’.  What’s a Whitehat?  A criminal who has decided to flip the switch and let those interested know how to block the earlier version of himself.  Here’s the quick download on John’s methods.

  • Highly Technical, Virtual, Bots, URL Stuffing, Ghost Completing
  • Virtual Device Farm (VPS) of 25 devices managed from one device
  • Income: $2,500 Monthly – Average Venezuelan Monthly Salary $25
  • Monthly # of Surveys Completed Successfully: 3,000 (yes, that is 100 per day)
  • Kudos to our partner BitBurst for hiring him to help enhance their efforts.  

Ghost #2 (aka “Dave”) 

Dave is a Bangladesh-based YouTube Content Creator & Survey Fraudster.  Dave thinks he is providing a good service to his fellow Bangladesh citizens by learning this skill and imparting his wisdom via 1on1 sessions, classes, and YouTube videos.  Here’s the quick download on Dave’s methods.

  • 3rd Year Physics Student, ‘Survey Fraud’ is a part-time job
  • Highly Social with over 300 videos, more technical than his friends, but not as technical as one would assume
  • 6 devices not connected, all running separate
  • Income: $2500 Monthly (Average Bangladesh Monthly Salary is $200)
  • Average Monthly # of Surveys completed Successfully: 400 

As you can see, the methods vary but their volume is high.  This is because the payoff is robust.

In my chats with them, I couldn’t help but dig into In my next post, I’ll share their whys and what they admitted slows them down!

Please click here for Part 2 of 5.

If you would like help with your survey data quality with the OpinionRoute ID Suite initiative, reach out here.

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